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Vanis backs his Knights to topple Kingz

by Fred Villiers, Sunday Herald Sun
Sunday, 25 March 2001

Melbourne Knights coach Vlado Vanis is confident of keeping his team’s unbeaten National Soccer League record against Football Kingz intact when they clash at Knights Stadium today.

In the three games against the Kiwis, the Victorians have drawn two and won one.

But the Knights are depleted today and will be without the injured trio of Andy Vargas, Steve Horvat and Adrian Cervinski.

Vanis believes his team will avenge the 2-2 draw last week against wooden spooners Eastern Pride in Gippsland on a waterlogged ground.

“We should have won this game, but it was bad luck when we lost in the last minute,” Vanis said.

The Knights are intent on playing in the finals and must retain sixth position.

Vanis said today’s match was important for his side.

“We will win it if the crowd gets behind us,” he said.

“I was happy last week with the performance of the team in the second half, but hopefully this week we are going to win in front of our home supporters.

“It is a very crucial game for us and we are going to put everything into it.”

Vanis praised the way former Carlton players Horvat, Andrew Marth, Daniel Vasilevski and Lubo Lapsansky have slotted into the team.

“So far they have done the job and they can give us more, but not just them – every player in the squad can lift themselves by at least 20 per cent,” Vanis said.

“If we make the final, we have to put in 100 per cent in every game.”

Cervinski (10 goals this season) has a knee injury and will be sorely missed.

“He is a very valuable player for the team,” Vanis said.

“He was a top striker last year and this is bad luck.”

The Kiwis shocked Marconi (fifth) with a 1-0 win in Wellington last week.

If the Kingz score their sixth win of the season, it could enable them to make the finals, although they will need a golden run in the final seven rounds.

Players the Knights must watch include the experienced Wynton Rufer, who has a stinging left-foot shot, and former Knight Paul Urlovic.

The Knights have a good home record with six wins, two draws and three defeats from 11 games.

“We have seven weeks to go,” Vanis said.

“I think we need at least five wins to finish in the top six and I think we can do it.

“We have got a team that can do this job.”

Vanis said the Knights have not been in the top six for several years and needed extra support from supporters, committee and players.

“We simply have to stick together for the next few weeks to make the finals,” Vanis said.

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